(italic = started but not yet finished - quite a lot of those this month)
No Country for Old Men; Cormac McCarthy
The Great Transformation; Karen Armstrong
Aliens: why they are here; Bryan Appleyard
The Gift of Therapy; Irving Yalom
Redeeming Time: T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" ; Kenneth Paul Kramer
Horror films; Colin Odell and Michelle LeBlanc (this last written by someone on my lj f-list. Not sure if it's OK to say who.)
Classical Religions and Myths of the Mediterranean Basin; Dr. Jon David Solomon (read by Ben Kingsley)
Ghost Stories; MR James (read by Derek Jacobi)
Cloud Atlas; David Mitchell
The Great Poets; WB Yeats
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell; Susannah Clarke (read by Simon Prebble)
Aliens: why they are here is an interesting book. It's by a journalist who writes for mags like Vanity Fair - so fairly good writing, but good in a journalistic rather than cultural way. It's a run-through the history of UFO/contact type stories since the 2ndWW. He shows how popular accounts influenced films and books, which in turn influenced the way people report 'sightings'. He is excellent - being a good journalist - at going back to primary, or at least secondary, sources (the original yellowing newspaper reports for instance) and showing how the same story has been retold in different ways as the conventions change. I also thought he successfully adopted a neutral tone, with no intrusive debunking nor endorsing message. He is least successful where he tries to make weighty statements about the meaning of otherness and so on, but you can get the works on that elsewhere. To sum up - a book-length version of what you can get in Fortean Times, one of my favourite periodicals.
The Gift of Therapy is a book by an existential/humanist therapist. One thing I like about his work is that he emphasises being-in-the-present with the client. The impact of just sitting with them, with the things that are happening for them and for you.
Redeeming Time Is an interesting analysis of the Four Quartets, which are my favourite poems at the moment. I think the poems are about what it is like to be in the present, and about the experience of being in time, rather than being primarily about Anglicanism. I think the religion is just a cover for the intense feeling of what it is like to be a person existing just on this knife edge of now. I thought the title would mean that this writer might concentrate on 'time' but he concentrates on 'redeeming'. Still, fair enough, and that makes it a more challenging read.